U.S. ends 42-year Olympic cross-country medal drought with incredible photo finish

U.S. ends 42-year Olympic cross-country medal drought with incredible photo finish

Jessie Diggins celebrates as she crosses the line to win gold in the women's cross-country team sprint free at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on February 21, 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Randall and Diggins beat silver medalist Sweden by.19 seconds. With plans firmly in place to retire and make a new home with her family after the 2018 Games, it seemed possible that Randall, 35, might see her career end without an Olympic medal.

Diggins passed the Swedes and the Norwegians on the final lap to make history in a major upset.

"I just felt unstoppable", she said. No one digs deep like Diggins.

Diggins certainly didn't give up.

Jessica Diggins, left, celebrates bagging the first Olympic cross-country gold medal for the United State. Randall lay on top of a crying Diggins shaking her ski jacket in pure excitement and utter joy.

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Team USA's Erik Bjornsen and Simi Hamilton took 3rd in the men's cross-country sprint relay semifinals, qualifying for the team sprint finals. She has been through all of the tough times, competing with the American cross-country ski team since the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. On Wednesday, the United States finally won its first medal. "Kikkan Randall inspired a whole movement or youth skiers, and for her to win this medal alongside the future of the team and Jessie Diggins was incredible". "America, they have been strong for years and growing a really good team, so they really deserve it". "She was the one early on who took all these girls - but in particular Jessie - under her wing and showed her the ropes and provided some leadership". Bill Koch was the first, at the 1976 Olympics.

That winter, she burst onto the national scene on a cloudy day in Rumford, Maine, when she won the national sprint title.

Added Diggins: "It feels unreal".

"It still doesn't feel real", she said. Diggins and Randall are enormously accomplished cross-country racers.

Through the first four women's events in PyeongChang, Diggins was close - oh, so close. "That to me is pretty cool. So for them to team up like that is just kind of a Cinderella story". Of course, she was bummed, but you could tell she was happy for me. In the final, they were head to head with Sweden and Norway throughout the race.

When she crossed the line, all the coaches' radios went silent. A year later, in January 2012, in only her third world cup race, Diggins finished on a world cup podium in the team sprint, with Randall. "I don't know if you have that many teams where everyone is out there on the fence yelling their faces off. I just couldn't believe how lucky I was to have a teammate like that". Team USA had been hoping that the cross-country drought would finally break; instead, it continued. "They were awesome today". The Norwegian athlete is the most decorated Winter Olympian (14 medals). Tonight they spoke in the language of tears - happy tears, but hard-won ones.

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